It’s a piece of cake

Photo by Kit Flynn.


By Kit Flynn

If I hear, “Oh, it’s a piece of cake” one more time I shall scream. Let me explain. For about ten years, I have had slow-growing cataracts that refused to “ripen” – the term ophthalmologists use to describe cataracts that are ready for removal. I was happily living with my cataracts as they weren’t bothering me – I firmly believe in peaceful coexistence.

I began noticing that I was cleaning the left lens of my glasses fairly often. Still, I paid that no heed until my regular ophthalmologist sent me to Duke to a glaucoma specialist who announced rather grandly that while I had no glaucoma, I was now housing a “ripe” cataract.

Now let me admit that not only do I suffer from ophidiophobia, a deep fear of snakes – primarily copperheads, but I also dread having anything approaching my eyes. Every time the tonometer, that fearsome machine that measures eye pressure, looms close to my eyes, I tend to exhibit childish behavior. In fact, over forty years ago an ophthalmologist named Dr. Portfolio (his name is forever engraved on my psyche) snapped at me, telling me to “grow up.”

So, here I found myself encountering an eye procedure that involved either slicing or lasering my eyeball. The assistant to the eye surgeon put on a video that began with, “First we make a gentle slice…” and I quickly announced that either that video or I had to go. There is no room for bravery when it comes to my eyes.

The worst part of this anticipation was the lack of sympathy I received from friends. “It’s a piece of cake,” was a common refrain, coupled with, “You’ll be so glad you had it done.” I kept on harkening back to the experience of one friend who did have trouble with infection with his first cataract procedure. Even he agreed that his second procedure was “a piece of cake.”

Now you’re not supposed to lift anything over ten pounds for a couple of days so the three Havanese, all over ten pounds, had to spend some time at the kennel. You’re also not supposed to bend down according to several friends – and I was astounded how many times a day I bend down doing essential tasks, such as towel retrieval and even getting dressed.

You do have to make a big decision: What lens do you want? At first, I thought it would be lovely to have a bifocal lens, matching my glasses, but was quickly disabused of this possibility as there are no bifocal lenses available. Medicare pays for the basic lens, which according to my understanding, leaves you with good near-sighted sight. I’ve always been somewhat near-sighted but walking around with my reading glasses demonstrated that everything in the distance was rather blurry, a condition I found to be rather unsatisfactory. Consequently, I spurned the Medicare lens option and chose one that apparently will allow me to drive without wearing glasses, something I haven’t done since tenth grade.

The Davis Surgery Center called me twice, sounding downright chirpy, a feeling I wasn’t sharing with them. My close friend who was driving me that fateful day (and has had two cataract procedures) simply rolled her eyes every time I expressed my fears and anxiety. I found the lack of sympathy on the part of my friends to be extremely trying, thinking uncharitably to myself, “Wait until they are facing life-and-death decisions and see how sympathetic I will be.” Clearly, a baser nature in my personality was emerging.

D-Day finally arrived. The eye surgeon had informed me that the medication pumped into my bloodstream would make me “very happy.” Beginning the day feeling downright dour, I eagerly awaited my manufactured happiness – which never arrived. I keep on explaining to the technician administering the medication that euphoria was passing me by while he gently assured me that I had received the required amount of anesthesia.

Consequently, I was wide awake for the procedure and remember everything, something all my friends profess to not recalling. It did not hurt as miraculously my eyeball was totally without feeling. Patched up, my dear friend drove me home while I was still complaining that I had missed the joyous feeling everyone expressed they had felt during the procedure.

The eye didn’t hurt; rather it exhibited soreness, something Ibuprofen handled. Strictly forbidden to cook or drink my 5:00 PM glass of wine (a cause for additional crankiness), I managed to take two long naps before falling into bed at 7:00 PM to sleep nine hours, proving that the technician had indeed injected me with anesthesia.

The next morning was miraculous. Seeing well enough to pass the driving sight test at the ophthalmologist’s office, I noticed the soreness had disappeared. I had the office remove my bifocals’ left lens as the old prescription was hopeless. Suddenly, I felt a huge wave of cheerfulness.

I will say this a bit grudgingly, “It was a piece of cake.”

My friends are rolling their eyes.

After being an active member of the Durham County Extension Master Gardeners for 13 years, Kit Flynn now holds emeritus status. For five years she was the gardening correspondent for “Senior Correspondent” and shared “The Absentee Gardener” column with fellow Master Gardener Lise Jenkins. She has given numerous presentations on various gardening topics to Triangle organizations and can be reached at
Share This Article

Scroll down to make a comment.

2 Comments on "It’s a piece of cake"

  1. This is in my near future. So glad to hear it is indeed a “piece of cake!” Congratulations!

  2. So glad you were brave… good for you.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.